‘A Father’s Love,’ Downloaded From God, Uploaded to iTunes
20 years ago, at the start of November 2001, my wife and I were in the midst of intense rehearsals for our original musical Bethlehem. Our pastor Bob Cathers had assigned us the task of doing a little production that told the Nativity story. Naturally, we decided to do a full-book musical instead … in a church of 250 … where we didn’t yet know many people … where previous productions got two rehearsals or so at best.
We would tell the Nativity story alright, with the massacre of the innocents included. But from the point of view of the average town folk of Bethlehem. How did these ordinary people react to the extraordinary events happening around them?
As I wrote the play and the songs, one thing was clear. Joseph wasn’t going to have his own song. No offense, Joseph. Just not my concept of my musical. Then one day I learned whose musical it really was.
At the Light, God Does a Re-Write
Early one morning, I was driving to work at the West Coast Detectives Agency in Van Nuys. I pulled up to the light one block east of Balboa Blvd. on Roscoe, right next to Home Depot and the train tracks. The radio was tuned to K-Earth, L.A.’s oldies station. On came the beautiful Bobby Darin recording “If I Were a Carpenter:”
“If I were a carpenter, and you were my lady, would you marry me? Would you have my baby?”
Suddenly, I was overwhelmed by Joseph, the carpenter. And the Baby. And instantly, my spirit was filled with a song. Verse. Chorus. Melody. All there. I didn’t write it. I tell you, I did not write it. It was downloaded to me.
I raced the three short blocks to work. The song was virtually complete by the time I pulled into the parking lot. I sprinted upstairs to scribble down the song before I forgot it. A song about Joseph embracing the full responsibility of raising this child. A song of adoption:
You’ll learn the law. You’ll learn to laugh.
You’ll learn to build with your words and with your hands.
You’ll learn to love, through good and bad.
You’ll learn from your Father … and your dad.
Joseph’s Song (as it was called then) became one of the most beautiful moments in Bethlehem. Coming right after one of the most boisterous moments — children singing “Shh, the Baby Jesus is Sleeping” — the audience was enraptured. And when Mary woke up and joined her husband in harmony, oh, man.
A Special Recording
About 10 years later … just in time for Christmas … we decided to do a studio recording of the song. I realized a studio version, separate from how it works in the play, would need a bridge. Boom. God gave me that, too, in about 30 seconds. Again I take no credit.
I can’t spare you all the blows
to come your way.
I can only throw my life before you,
hit my knees and pray.
The vocals would be done by our former worship leader turned pastor Graham Cathers, whose voice can melt the coldest of hearts. I’d play mandolin. Our friend, musical guru Greg Miller would play every other instrument and produce the track.
Greg’s studio was in South Central, built by soul and pop legend Sam Cooke when he was planning to start up his own record company. What a dream. Playing my grandfather’s instrument on a song given me by God in a studio built by the late great Sam Cooke.
Add Graham’s silky smooth voice and what Greg did with the arrangement? One of the most awesome and humbling days ever. And by days’ end, we had “A Father’s Love.”
We put it out under the artist name Random Acts of Prayer.
Now, in honor of the 20th anniversary of Bethlehem and the miracle of “A Father’s Love (Joseph’s Song)” we are re-releasing the single. It’s available pretty much anywhere digital music is sold. I do hope you will check it out, perhaps even buy it and share it, with families that have adopted or those who’ve been adopted themselves.
Oh. Did I say miracle? Seems I left out a key part of the story.
The Miracle Adoption
Go back to the day God downloaded me “Joseph’s Song.” I told you I raced up to my office to scribble down the lyrics and memorize the melody. I didn’t tell you what I did next. I opened my email.
In my inbox was an email from my sister-in-law Sue. Huge news from back home. My nephew Dan and his wife Julie had gotten official word that their adoption of a soon-to-be-born child had been approved!
On the very day my nephew found out he was going to be the father of an adopted child, the Lord had given me in advance a father’s love song to his adopted child.
This divine convergence would be but one of the many miracles associated with Katelynn’s adoption. But that’s her story for another day.
What I can say is that its core is the Father’s Love.
Twinkle, twinkle, brightest star.
Few on earth know who you are.
Twinkle, twinkle heaven above
Knows something of a Father’s Love.
May the song bless you and yours this Christmas season.
Al Perrotta is the Managing Editor of The Stream, chief barista for The Morning Brew and co-author, with John Zmirak, of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration. You can follow him at @StreamingAl at Gab, Parler, MeWe and now GETTR.